FEATURE: My 2014 In Live Music

I went a little over two years without seeing any live music. It certainly wasn’t something I was trying to do, but it happened. This was pretty unforgivable for someone who blogs about music. This is even more unforgivable given my immediate proximity to Chicago. There were literally bands here always.

But, somehow, I went from July 2011 until November 2013 without seeing any live music. It was a pretty big drought. As is forever the story of my life, it was almost always due to money problems, health problems, or scheduling problems. I work 3rd shift on Wednesday through Saturday nights. This means I end up missing damn near every show. That two year span was a lot of disappointment. I’d see a band was coming, only to see the show was on a Friday or Saturday night. Meaning I had to work.

Luckily that streak was broken. I got back into the swing of things this last year. I got to see a pretty fair amount of bands. Here is my 2014 in live music:

March:
NONA / Pet Symmetry / Meah! / The Valenteens
(@ TOWNSHIP)

April:
Dowsing / Donovan Wolfington / Bluebirds / Per Aspera
(@ TOWNSHIP)

May:
Dowsing / Little Big League / Winter Classic / L. Mounts
(@ TOWNSHIP)

June:
Lemuria / Cayetana / PUP / The Menzingers
(@ BOTTOM LOUNGE)

July:
Braid / Jason Douglass Swearingen
(@ TOWNSHIP)

September:
Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Joie De Vivre / Free Throw
(@ TOWNSHIP)

December:
Lemuria / Lifted Bells / Prince
(@ BEAT KITCHEN)

American Football / Braid
(@ BOTTOM LOUNGE)

Ten of those bands ended up on my year end lists.

Hopefully 2015 is as eventful. Though, with the apparent loss of Township, I feel like Sunday night shows are going to fall by the wayside. That is definitely a bummer.

So, bands I like, you are on notice. Please play Sunday shows when you come to Chicago. You will be my best friends, and you may end up on a year end list on a blog that not very many people read. Deal?

Advertisements

YEAR END! – Top Twenty Records Of 2014

fulllengthIN ALPHABETICAL ORDER:

  • Allison Crutchfield – “Lean Into It”
  • Braid – “No Coast”
  • Cayetana – “Nervous Like Me”
  • Crisis Arm – “Rend”
  • Dikembe – “Mediumship”
  • Divino Niño – “Pool Jealousy”
  • Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – “You Will Eventually Be Forgotten”
  • Free Throw – “Those Days Are Gone”
  • Grey Zine – “Destitution”
  • The Hotelier – “Home Like Noplace Is There”
  • Kill The Intellectuals – “I Hope You Die Painlessly – With Laugh Lines And Wrinkles Around Your Eyes”
  • Kittyhawk – “Hello, Again”
  • Late Bloomer – “Things Change”
  • Living Room – “Moonchaser”
  • Mother Room – “Scorched”
  • Museum Mouth – “Alex I Am Nothing”
  • My Fictions – “Stranger Songs”
  • Perfect Future – “Manifesto”
  • Sport – “Bon Voyage”
  • Weak Teeth – “So You’ve Ruined Your Life”

REVIEW: Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) – “You Will Eventually Be Forgotten”

eeiwaleywebfIt’s been five years since Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) put out a full length. Let’s be real though, it felt like a lot longer than that. And, oh, what a full length it was. What It Takes To Move Forward is a beautiful album from start to finish. It would be a fair question to ask if they could make a follow up that even meets the quality of that record. The answer is yes. Yes they fucking can, and have. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten has met and exceeded the expectations that led up to it. And of course it did. Keith and Cathy Latinen are amazing at what they do, and no one should be surprised.

It’s a little hard to write about Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) without touching on a few different subjects. The first being the sheer number of bands they exposed people to via split releases, tours, or releases on Count Your Lucky Stars. Like, it was through them that I found Dowsing, Joie De Vivre, and Football, Etc. The next obvious point is the sheer volume of releases they’ve put out. In the five years since the first the LP, they have released a boatload of 7 inches, either as splits or as EPs. Things have more or less been building to You Will Eventually Be Forgotten.

While not a huge departure from the earlier releases, You Will Eventually Be Forgotten is notable for how the songwriting has changed. Their older songs lived and breathed on more abstract, esoteric lyrics. The lyric here are entirely literal. The metaphors have given way to straight forward speech. These are lyrics that you can connect to outright, at face value. “Things Not Worth Fixing” is very much a story of getting out of college, having to move back home, and work a shit job that you feel you are above. “It’s So Much Darker When a Light Goes Out Than When It Would Have Been If It Had Never Shone” is a song about remembering an event celebrating grandparents’ anniversary, and how both grandparents became so intertwined in life that one shortly followed the other in after death. Album opener, “Ribbon” proposes that “there is always enough to get things done.” It bookends with “The Promise That Life Can Go On No Matter How Bad Our Losses” asking “is this still worth putting our lives on hold for?”

This is very much a record that tells 10 distinct little stories. The lyrics read like a biography of sorts. It covers childhood memories. There are stories of the unsure, exciting parts of an early relationship. It covers finding love and getting married. It is triumphant in parts, somber in other. It’s the mixture of exuberance and ennui that really makes the whole thing work.

The real crux of the release is the music. As it stands, it is not really anything unexpected for them. But, much like the songwriting itself, the music has been reigned in a bit. It has definitely built upon the songs from earlier in their discography, but has done so without retreading the sound they, and many other bands, have tread. It is going to be right up the alley of the genre purists who care more about style than substance, but it is also a record that bleeds authenticity. There is a certain level of brevity to these songs, and the album as a whole. You Will Eventually Be Forgotten is a tidy 38 minutes. It is much more focused than the double LP that preceded it. What It Takes To Move Forward clocked in at just about an hour. The difference in length is notable because both albums have the same number of songs.

“We Are People Here. We Are Not Numbers” is a great example of them recognizing the strengths of the older releases, but still evolving. It is a song that pushes the quiet/loud dynamic. Not in a Pixies or college rock way, but there is definitely a noticeable contrast. The song that immediately follows it, “You Have to Be So Much Better than You Ever Thought” is another song that has some bite to it. It feel more like a deep cut from their earlier releases. It kind of sits in the same territory that “So How Many Points Do You Have ‘Till You Gain, You Know, the Ultimate Power?” did. Otherwise, there are plenty of songs that will fit nicely in the “sad jams” tag they use on their BandCamp page.

So, to wrap this overly long review up, just go order this. Get it on vinyl, get it on cd, or get it digitally. Whatever works best for you. It is one of the best releases you’ll hear this year. That is a fact.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Count Your Lucky Stars (Buy It)
Topshelf Records (Buy It)
BandCamp

YEAR END! – Top Twenty EPs / Splits Of 2013

epgrid

  • Nobody, Ever – “This Wall Is Dedicated To Liam And His Mates”
  • All Dogs – “All Dogs”
  • The Island Of Misfit Toys – “Furiouser & Furiouser”
  • Adobe Homes / Innards – “Split”
  • These Branches – “Beliefs”
  • Best Practices – Sore Subjects
  • Late Night Beers – “Waking”
  • Lemuria – “Brilliant Dancer”
  • Dads – “Pretty Good”
  • Football, etc / Plaids – “Split”
  • Perfect Future – “Irrational, Malleable, Inevitable”
  • Sunday Guts – “Leave It Go”
  • Graves. – “We Could Stand Here, SIlent And Still”
  • Tyler Daniel Bean – “Everything You Do Scares Me”
  • Young Turks – “Where I Rise”
  • Self Defense Family – “You Are Beneath Her”
  • Abi Reimold / Infinity Crush – “Wish It Stopped (split)”
  • Iron Chic – “Spooky Action”
  • Dikembe / Pet Symmetry – “Split”
  • Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate) / Malegoat – “Split”

REVIEW: Arrows & Empire! Empire! split & Rika / Empire! Empire! split

ARROWS / EMPIRE! EMPIRE! (I WAS A LONELY ESTATE) SPLIT 7″

Three songs of picture perfect emo music.

From Brisbane, Australia, Arrows open this split up. I had never heard this band before, and I was quite pleased with what I heard.  Their song on here, “All Passwords Are Brisbane,” is certainly a great introduction to me. Musically, they have more than a little in common with Empire! Empire!. It is a bit of a no brainer to say that if you dig one, you really should dig the other.

The two Empire! Empire! songs on here, “Turbo Stasis” and “We Did Not Need To Open It To Know It Was There,” are further examples of how great this band is. These two songs would fit excellently in any part of their discography.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Arrows
Count Your Lucky Stars
Hobbledehoy Records
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (Hobbledehoy)

EMPIRE! EMPIRE! (I WAS A LONELY ESTATE) / RIKA SPLIT 7″

Everything I said about Empire! Empire! above is basically true on this split as well. “We Were Not Small Or Great But Grown” kicks off the split with the introspective songwriting one would expect from this band. “It’s A Fate We Can’t Escape. Someday We Will Pass Away” is a very moving song about seeing someone close to you die. Honestly it is one of their best. It is also the first song by these guys to get close to the five minute mark in quite a few releases.

Rika’s one song on here is similarly fantastic. Calm, twinkly emo with great vocals (both lead and backing). The backing vocals don’t fuck around on here. “Skutner” is a great song that rises and falls in all the right places. This band is from Vienna, Austria. Check out their other stuff, it is great.

Empire! Empire! (I Was A Lonely Estate)
Rika
Count Your Lucky Stars
Goddamn Records
Stream It (BandCamp)
Buy It (CYLS) (Goddamn)

Sorry I combined these to one post.

REVIEW: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) – "Home After Three Months Away"

This record is Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate)’s newest 7″. As far as the record, it is pretty much what one would expect from this band. While they have had various people work in this band in the past, it is only the core of Keith and Cathy Latinen here. Per the insert, “Cathy played her guitar parts, and Keith did the rest.” They did it well, as this records sounds great.

What we have here is an emo record in the vein of Mineral or Christie Front Drive. Slow, sad sounding jams are to be had. As such, you can expect clean, twinkly guitars and great lyrics. For a release by this band, the songs are rather short. Between two and three minutes each, which compared to the four or five plus minute songs this band is known for, is quite a dose of brevity. In keeping with brevity, it is a four song 7″ and I do not want to do another overly long review. Long story short, it is a great example of what emo can still be. Basically, this band is all about the quality. I highly recommend it.

*Official Website
*Buy It (Stiff Slack Records [Japan])
*Stream It (BandCamp)